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 Post subject: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:37 am 
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Obviously I'd only be there for 6-7 months, but I have no legal experience and want to be 100% sure I want this before I go to law school.

Haven't seen a lot about this on TLS, but would paralegal-ing pre-LS be a good idea? I'm currently in a shit minimum wage job in the service industry and am fairly miserable. I'm a college graduate from a very good school (T15/30) but not a ton of work experience outside of service industry. Which I hate and want out of ASAP.

Any other job options besides paralegal for pre-law school experience? I suppose I could volunteer. My current job is full-time, 40+ hours a week.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:51 am 
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A. Wrong forum
B. There is a ton of shit about 0L paralegals on TLS
C. The reason for B is because a ton of people do it
D. It will expose you to law, but will not give you any kind of boost for hiring purposes when you are in law school

To sum up, go be a paralegal if you want to get exposed to law. It's probably a better job than the service industry shit you are doing now, but don't expect it to be a unique experience when you get to law school.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:11 pm 
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I was a paralegal for about a year and a half before law school, and I found it to be very helpful for interviews. I am an "older" student with about 5 years of total work experience. Nevertheless, I found having the paralegal background helped me speak to what firms are looking for much sooner than my classmates. I also found a lot of the skills I developed to be extremely helpful once I got into jobs. Now, I not only show tons of respect to the paralegals I work with, but I understand how important their job is for keeping the office going. When talking about firm life, several interviewers would say something like "oh, you were a paralegal, so you know what I'm talking about," which I found helpful. I became a paralegal in a niche area of law and then decided that I wanted to practice in that field. So I came into law school with experience in the area of law I wanted to practice. That has been the most helpful thing. I knew the lingo, could talk about real cases I worked on, could explain the amount of client contact I had, etc. I would suggest that while you are a paralegal to tap into the resource that the attorneys can be. If you make a good impression, I really think that would be very helpful when trying to find jobs on down the road.

I guess it really depends on what you make of it. If you go in just to do it as a job, it probably won't help that much. If you go in motivated to make a great impression, network, and learn, then I think it can be a wonderful experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:02 pm 
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roguey wrote:
I was a paralegal for about a year and a half before law school, and I found it to be very helpful for interviews. I am an "older" student with about 5 years of total work experience. Nevertheless, I found having the paralegal background helped me speak to what firms are looking for much sooner than my classmates. I also found a lot of the skills I developed to be extremely helpful once I got into jobs. Now, I not only show tons of respect to the paralegals I work with, but I understand how important their job is for keeping the office going. When talking about firm life, several interviewers would say something like "oh, you were a paralegal, so you know what I'm talking about," which I found helpful. I became a paralegal in a niche area of law and then decided that I wanted to practice in that field. So I came into law school with experience in the area of law I wanted to practice. That has been the most helpful thing. I knew the lingo, could talk about real cases I worked on, could explain the amount of client contact I had, etc. I would suggest that while you are a paralegal to tap into the resource that the attorneys can be. If you make a good impression, I really think that would be very helpful when trying to find jobs on down the road.



I guess it really depends on what you make of it. If you go in just to do it as a job, it probably won't help that much. If you go in motivated to make a great impression, network, and learn, then I think it can be a wonderful experience.


Going into it to learn a lot and make connections, certainly. How did you go about finding it/getting it with no prior paralegal experience?


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:08 pm 
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FYI (and I will be moving this thread):
TLSofficial wrote:
If you're a 0L wanting advice from current law students, we've set up a new forum just for you, which you can find here: viewforum.php?f=4

It's called "Ask a Law Student", and it's a place for 0Ls to ask current law students questions without disturbing the "Students and Graduates" forums. Post all your questions there, including about things like classes, grades, transferring, employment, etc. Please do not continue posting your questions here in the Students and Graduates forums, as doing so might get you banned and/or your thread locked.

Thank you for your understanding.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:13 pm 
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tag, in the exact same situation and there is a huge lack of info on pre-LS employment on tls..


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:43 pm 
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What else do you guys want to know? There's little information about this because there's not much to say. Being a paralegal is a fine job, decent money, and can be a good way to see what you think of working in a law firm environment, but that's about it. The experience isn't anything remarkable, and if you go to law school afterward you'll be joining like the other 15% of your class who are former paralegals. If you want to be a paralegal, go on some job boards and apply to openings. If you're feeling ambitious, you could go down the Vault 100 and cold email your resume and cover letter to all the firms in your city.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:03 pm 
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Anonymous User wrote:
roguey wrote:
I was a paralegal for about a year and a half before law school, and I found it to be very helpful for interviews. I am an "older" student with about 5 years of total work experience. Nevertheless, I found having the paralegal background helped me speak to what firms are looking for much sooner than my classmates. I also found a lot of the skills I developed to be extremely helpful once I got into jobs. Now, I not only show tons of respect to the paralegals I work with, but I understand how important their job is for keeping the office going. When talking about firm life, several interviewers would say something like "oh, you were a paralegal, so you know what I'm talking about," which I found helpful. I became a paralegal in a niche area of law and then decided that I wanted to practice in that field. So I came into law school with experience in the area of law I wanted to practice. That has been the most helpful thing. I knew the lingo, could talk about real cases I worked on, could explain the amount of client contact I had, etc. I would suggest that while you are a paralegal to tap into the resource that the attorneys can be. If you make a good impression, I really think that would be very helpful when trying to find jobs on down the road.



I guess it really depends on what you make of it. If you go in just to do it as a job, it probably won't help that much. If you go in motivated to make a great impression, network, and learn, then I think it can be a wonderful experience.


Going into it to learn a lot and make connections, certainly. How did you go about finding it/getting it with no prior paralegal experience?


I was applying to anything and everything I could find on craigslist and just happened to get called in to interview with a small immigration firm. I spoke Spanish and was previously a high school Spanish teacher, which kinda helped. I had to move in the middle of a school year due to a family emergency and was looking for something to fill the gap until teacher hiring time. I was a receptionist for only a few months, during which I learned as much as I could about immigration law. When a paralegal position came available, I jumped at it. Having already made a great impression on my boss, there really wasn't a question. It didn't take me long at all to decide to go to law school instead of returning to teaching.

It can be very difficult to get a paralegal position without law firm experience. I have heard of many paralegals starting as receptionists or file clerks to get that experience. If you can handle it financially, I would try taking any job possible in a law firm and then working up from there. Many paralegal positions don't require experience, but there are quite a few experienced paralegals with paralegal certificates (or unemployed JDs) out there looking for work.

Oh! I also found being a paralegal gave me some great interview lines about how I wanted to try it out and see what lawyers really do, etc., before jumping into law school. I have received positive feedback about that, especially with the issues with legal hiring currently. Having that "I wanted to try it before I did it" experience is good for showing foresight, planning, and cautious risk taking.


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 Post subject: Re: Paralegal before law school, class of 2016?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:44 pm 
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As a 0L paralegal myself, I agree with the above. It's nothing out of the ordinary or exceptional, but it gets your feet wet, helps you learn the lingo and understand how law firms work. Also, learning how to bill for time... I can see that being a valuable skill later on. Not necessarily a skill that's going to magically open any doors for me, mind you. But I do see a lot of K-JD types who struggle with billing and don't work their way up the totem pole as quickly as others.

All that said, if you've got an opportunity to do something more substantial e.g. run a small business/non-profit, do something hard-science related, work in-house at an insurance company / hospital / financial sector..... do that instead.


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